The Houston rap game has recently seen many artists leave this town for the sunny side of Los Angeles and beyond. That doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of rappers calling Houston home, but it's a fact that's existing. It's hard not to look at the kick up in exposure Fat Tony has received since heading out to the West Coast without wanting to follow him out there.
With all of that the rappers who have stayed here are standing out more and more, possibly none more than Guilla. Never one to do things like everyone else, Guilla has been dropping a steady stream of releases and playing more non-conventional shows than anyone else in town. On his latest release Crunchy Roll and Chill, he takes those experiences to a bold and catchy new place, adding to his already solid track record.
Opening with the slower stride of "Where Does The Time Go," where Guilla shouts out multiple people including yours truly, the rapper adds a thick beat and rhymes about trying to figure how he got to where he is today. In keeping with doing things differently, he follows this up with a track produced with MIEARS on "Villains," adding dark synths and a completely different vocal style. The track, produced primarily in Manchester offers up a completely new take on the already intriguing music that Guilla makes while Miears' vocals only add to the already fascinating track.
This continues with the rapper teaming up with singer songwriter Oliver Penn on "Lazy." Offering up more of a chill wave vibe, the song hits when it needs to while Guilla's spits are strong and pop like you want them to. Steering away from how his past releases sound, this newer approach isn't as distanced as it was on Children of The Sun, but still adds notes of mystery to what Guilla does. The pop infused sounds of iLL Faded produced and featured song "Fanny Pack" follows and gives the listener a true pop banger. Not to say that the track is a pop song, but the pop hooks are a plenty and help give the song plenty of snap from start to finish.
Two track later, he mixes things up again on "That's Whats Up," opening with an acoustic guitar before launching into a rhyme about codeine while offering another catchy track that has synths and beats that stand out and could blow speakers with their thump. The symphonic synths mixed with multiple beats and Guilla's rhyme work better than can be described, and resonate all over the track. While his rhymes are strong on "Tennis Coach," it's the Dat Boi T featured track "Andele" where the rapper really shines. Falling closer to a more traditional rap sound, Guilla spits with an ease and mixed swagger that's different while not sounding off beat. The track definitely gets your head bopping while it never really gets above the chill pace without being boring.
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This continues on "iLLa" featuring T2 the Ghetto Hippie, where the chill is definitely occurring. The weed infused lyrics aren't lost on the song that contains reggae beats and makes you think it's 4:20 everywhere when it gets played. The chopped and screwed vocals on "Don't Stop Now" are a nice touch, but the final track "Mada Mada Dane" hits with an intensity and pop that's hard not to love. Incorporating the anthemic vocals from his past releases, the energy heavy track has a hook infused beat and clap clusters that make the song one that you will more than likely place on repeat.
The result is another solid album from an artist who will always do things his own way. By staying true to this ideology, and working with solid names including production work from Mark Drew and iLL Faded, Guilla proves that the future of Houston hip hop could be his for the taking, doing it the only way he knows how. You can stream Crunchy Roll Chill in all of the usual places, or order your own copy from all digital storefronts. Guilla & Oliver Penn will embark on the Dopasetic Tour in Austin on April 7. You can catch the tour's end at Senpai's in Galveston on April 21. The all ages show has doors at 8 p.m.; and a $10 cover.